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How To Get Motivated To Exercise

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Aug 7, 2019 5:55:58 PM
Jill Derryberry
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I like to exercise. I like it so much I made it my full time job! So it may surprise you to know that there are days when I just don’t feel like working out. At all. Really.


It is completely normal to have times when the thought of going to the gym or lacing up those sneakers for a walk or run sounds horrible even if you normally like your fitness routine.

Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before, are not feeling well or you are overwhelmed with life but you just don’t feel the energy to muster up a workout.

There are also those who never feel motivated to exercise. They just don’t like it! I have met with many individuals who always have to push themselves to get a workout in or maybe they don’t workout at all.

Homer crawling on treadmill

Love it or hate it, the benefits of exercise outweigh the negative so we all should include it as part of our lifestyle. Whichever group you fall in, you are never always going to be motivated. Zig Ziglar is credited with saying, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Motivation is fleeting, it isn’t a permanent situation.

You have to continue to motivate yourself as often as necessary and become disciplined. Mario Andretti said, “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

Zig Ziglar also said, “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enables us to follow through.” Exercise is an important part of a healthy life.

How can we get motivated to do it? Then how do we turn that initial motivation into determination, discipline and commitment?

Find Your Why

The Merriam-Webster definition of motivated is “provided with a motive : having an incentive or a strong desire to do well or succeed in some pursuit”. Think about your motive for exercising.

Why do you want to work out? Many health conditions are improved or prevented by exercising and eating a healthy diet. Your why might be to lower your A1C number and not develop diabetes.

Someone else might have high blood pressure and is looking to lower it through lifestyle changes. Others may want to lose weight to stay healthy to live a long life with their kids and grandkids.

Whatever your why, or motive for exercising, write it down where you can see it whenever you need some motivation. I have heard of many people writing their why on a post-it note and putting it on the mirror in their bathroom so they see it first thing every morning. Put it where you will see it when you need a reminder of why you are keeping exercise in your schedule.

Create Small Goals and Track Your Progress

Develop a few goals you can work on short term. Even if you have a larger goal, identify some milestones to be reached along the way. Maybe your first goal is to exercise three days a week. Keep track of your workouts to ensure you will meet your goal.

Another goal could be to do a push up on your toes or do a pull up. Working toward a goal can be a motivator to keep up with your workouts. Make sure you track your progress, either on paper or in an app. According to Thomas S. Monson, “That which is measured, improves”. Seeing improvements makes you want to keep going.

Get An Accountability Partner or Group

Find people who will support you and keep you on track. It could be friends, coworkers, family or an online accountability group. Many health and fitness apps have the ability to chat with others with similar goals and might be a good place to find someone to push you to stick with your workouts. Keep it positive. Find a pal that supports and encourages but doesn’t nag.

Group fitness classes can be fun and motivating. It is inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by dedicated, like-minded individuals plus you will receive support from the instructor and other participants. In many of my classes regular participants get to know each other and expect to see each other at every class. They become accountability partners to come to class and push each other throughout the workout.

Another awesome accountability partner is a personal trainer. Having someone create workouts especially for you, push you through it and will hold you to your appointment for the workout can be very helpful.

Make it Fun


If you are consistently dreading your work out, maybe you haven’t found the right one for you. There are so many ways to exercise. Keep trying out different things until you find something that you don’t hate.

Finding a workout buddy is another way to make working out fun plus getting a built in accountability partner.

If you used to like your routine but it has become a bit stale, switch it up and do something different. Exercising doesn’t have to be at the gym; walking, running, playing sports or dancing are all great ways to workout. Maybe you will never think of it as “fun” but at least you won’t dread it.

Make It A Habit

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” - Jim Ryun

When motivation wanes, discipline is extremely important. Exercise should be part of everyone’s life. Your why, your motivation can get you started working out but to have the discipline and commitment to keep doing it regularly, it is best to make it a habit.

Creating a new habit can be difficult. Utilizing all of the things already discussed here will help you get that exercise in. Here are a few tips to make it a habit.

Create cues that signal it is time to exercise. Brushing your teeth is a common example of a habit. You don’t even think about it, you just do it. Think about your cue to brush your teeth. What triggers you to do it? Is it when you are in the bathroom right before bed? Create cues for your workout.

Maybe your gym is on the way home from work. The night before when you brush your teeth, put together your gym bag with everything you need for the gym the next day. (Pairing this new habit of getting your gym bag together with your existing habit of teeth brushing might make it easier to remember.)

Put your gym bag next to your work bag or in the car so it goes to work with you in the morning. Then when you drive home from work, you are going straight to the gym. In this example, your cue to exercise is leaving work. Your cue to prepare for the gym by putting your workout clothes and anything else you need for the gym in a bag the night before is brushing your teeth.

Schedule your workouts on a calendar. Plan what you will do and when. Getting your workout in at the same time of day has shown to be beneficial to developing an exercise habit.

Make it an appointment just like a business meeting or doctor visit that you can’t cancel. When people ask you if you can do something at that time you can honestly say you have an appointment and can’t.

Reward yourself. If you are consistent, you will notice a feel good feeling after you are done with your workout due to the endorphins released during exercise. After some time, this could be enough to keep up that exercise habit.

I have said to myself “remember how you will feel when you are done” many times before a workout. You also feel better overall when you are working out regularly, your sleep improves, your mood improves plus more.

It gets to a point when you feel so much better when exercise is a part of your lifestyle that if you stop for a period of time, you can’t wait to get back to it to feel better again.

This is what rewards me and keeps my exercise habit going. However, when you are new to exercise, it may be helpful to create other rewards like putting a dollar for every workout you do and buying yourself new workout clothes with the money you accumulate.

Or only watching your favorite tv show after or during a workout. Someone else might feel a reward would be a long hot bath after the workout. The point is to treat yourself in a healthy way that you wouldn’t otherwise do and will look forward to after that workout.

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Despite knowing the benefits, it isn’t something we are always motivated to do and that is normal. It’s ok to have those days where it is harder than others to get to the gym or get that run or walk done. Even the most disciplined have those days.

Keeping in mind your specific reason for staying healthy (your why) and committing to an exercise habit are helpful in keeping an active and healthy lifestyle and getting the workout done those times it is harder to get started.

Experiment with ways to exercise to find what you like best and don’t be afraid to change it up. Surround yourself with positive people to keep you accountable and you won’t have to look far for exercise motivation. Before you know it you will be committed to your workout routine and have the discipline to stick to it even when motivation does wane.

“Weight loss doesn't begin in the gym with a dumb bell; it starts in your head with a decision.” - Toni Sorenson, The Great Brain Cleanse


Looking for some exercise moves to help get you started?  Take a look at our workout library to find exercises and video instructions.